After graduation from University, I found myself at a loose end, the job market is not at its best right now and the constant applications, can easily bring a person down. Upon checking my old volunteering file for information for my CV I came across an opportunity with JHASW which seemed to offer everything one could want in a volunteer role. The role was that of a volunteer researcher, helping to research the backgrounds and lives of the Holocaust victims named on the Cardiff Holocaust Memorial Tablet. This included going over interviews of family members of the deceased as well as accessing numerous online databases to uncover as much of the individual’s story as possible with the goal of then combining all the information into a narrative for each individual, ensuring that the story behind the name could also be remembered.
Herz, Selda and Edith Herzfeld: Three of the victims named on the CRS Memorial Tablet, researched by Holly. Image Credits: Yad Vashem, Hall of Names, Pages of Testimony for Herz, Selda and Edith Herzfeld.
It just so happened that my most recent dissertation had been based on anti-Semitism within Britain and this had highlighted to me just how under-represented the Jewish Community is in British Historiography. By carrying out this research you are helping in giving a voice to those who didn’t have one and telling the difficult stories that need to be told. It is only when getting into the research that the scale of the Holocaust on an individual level really dawns on you as you realize stories like Anne Franks were far from exceptional and it is important that people understand this.
On a more personal level, one can’t deny how advantageous this work can be for the volunteers, the skills and experience it offers can be a great advantage in job applications and at interviews. One thing graduates are often criticized about whilst job seeking is their lack of experience, this project however offers you experience outside of academics, there are aspects of research, analysis, team-work, time management and much more. The project even offers a course on Digitization which can be taken advantage of and gain you a new accreditation which will undoubtedly make your CV more attractive to prospective jobs. I would recommend getting involved to anyone with an interest in history or research.
Written by Holly Isabel Lisk, JHASW volunteer.